The Great (Personal) Reset

Where did the time go? One minute writing out my New Year Resolutions, the next trying to avoid possibly Covid-19 infected people who were once friends and neighbours. Who on earth could have foreseen that? So back to the drawing board for a fresh set of 2021 resolutions (subject to death and taxes).

Beach Babe

I still want to get to the Galpagos Islands and I want to dive with Sharks but I fear that won’t be possible for 2 reasons, travel restrictions and I can’t afford it!

Neither can I afford my dear little cottage in France and as I am stuck in a flat with more rules than Putin could dream up adopting a Border Collie is also off the cards (for the moment). In fact so is Seeing the Northern Lights and Learning to Dive. But what I can do is

 

  1. Learn French
  2. Lose two and a half stone in weight from my very wibbly wobbly, unhealthy body
  3. Use up ALL of my fabric stash
  4. Use up ALL of my yarn stash
  5. Less driving and more bicycling
  6. Write every day

Six of the best. And one more – 

  •     Live extremely frugally to be able to afford all of the above! 

 

So here I am again, back on the starting blocks……………………………………………….. 

 

 

 

And now the reality

The bits I didn’t include in my last post. 

Sadly my friend and companion died last year. Like most of us he ignored his own mortality which resulted in him not updating his will. So I have been left with nothing and the executors have given me notice to quit my lovely home. If I don’t quit on the date they’ve given me they have informed me that they will charge me rent and expenses going right back to the moment he died and they’ll also apply to the court to get me evicted. What was I supposed to do, call 999, kiss him goodbye and then pack my bags? On this occasion solicitors have quite rightly earned their grubby money grabbing reputation.


We weren’t together long enough for me to qualify for a portion of his estate. I’m broke, I have no family, just my pussycat Poppy. She is all I have now and is so precious to me.
I dread having to do it but I fear I have to go through the much hated UK Benefits system. This is the one where even though you may be dying, have no arms or legs etc they will still say you are fit to work and will cut your benefits without any warning. Recent Freedom of Information Stats have revealed that over 10,000 vulnerable people have died at the hands of this brutal system. I have to navigate my way through this and I am having nightmares about it.

I’ve just read on Twitter that a nurse at a DWP interview asked a young Downs Syndrome girl “How long have you had Downs Syndrome?” Unbelievable and what chance do the rest of us have in the face of such incompetence?

I have to get myself on the Housing Register which I am not relishing. I am even eyeing up the back of my car with a view to making it into a mini camper car for Poppy and I. Desperate times.


I am going to continue with sharing my experiences of a broken benefits system and my experiences of the bully boy executors, but for now it’s chin up and don’t let the bastards grind you down. 

Slainte xxx

Getting the Jump on the New Year

Aerial view of Galapagos 2

I’ve set myself up a few New Year Resolutions that need effort with a capital E, so I thought I’d better post them now.

  1. Top resolution, buy my dream cottage in France
  2. Learn French
  3. Adopt a Border Collie dog
  4. Lose two and a half stone in weight from my very wobbly, unhealthy body
  5. Use up ALL of my fabric stash
  6. Learn to dive and take underwater photos
  7. Less driving and more cycling
  8. See the Northern Lights up close
  9. Write every day
  10. Visit the Galapagos Islands

There you are, all 10 of them, a nice even number. All perfectly achievable, however there is one small problem. At this moment in time I have the grand sum of £3.83 in the bank. So I guess unwritten resolution number 11 is raise/earn/beg a small fortune – £80k should do it for this year. GULP!

My Dream Cottage

I also should really have added pay off my debts as well, I didn’t add it as it’s not as much fun as diving with sharks in the waters around the Galapagos Islands.So that is unofficial resolution number 12. To make things more challenging my self-employed earnings have taken a drastic nose dive, so I need to figure out how to make money in the first instance.       DOUBLE GULP!!

This wee blog is now my record of how I reach my goals and get to my cottage with its Sweetpeas and Honeybees!

Second Post in a Week – Lummy!

robin waut

A list of things that the last few years  have taught me –

You don’t need –

    Instead of ruminating over something constantly get busy
    Nobody really notices your limited wardrobe as long as you don’t smell and you hair isn’t greasy
    You don’t need every camera gadget under the sun to take good pics
    You don’t need every fancy bit of software, super duper high end laptop, 29 fountain pens, fancy ink to write
    You don’t need the latest makeup, household gadget, new car to feel good about yourself

You do need –

    Friends
    A steady supply of coffee and biccies for said friends
    Discipline in work when you’re self-employed
    Curiosity
    A library card
    Warm quick dry socks and clothing
    Rubber gloves to get cat hair off your clothing
    Notebook and pen
    Access to free wifi where poss
    Water, veggies and fruit
    Countryside and wildlife
    Peace and a hug every so often

Slainte xx

The Mooncat is Back!

It’s been a while, 2 years I think! A lot of whiskey has flowed under the bridge since my last post.

Sadly down to my last pussycat, my 16 year old Poppy. I’ve had her since she was 8 weeks old, where has the time gone? We are both a bit more stiff in the joints but hanging in there.

cute Poppy

I came through all the cancer treatment, my hair has grown back now even longer than before the chemo treatment. It’s a bit of a shambles but I am so happy it’s grown back that I haven’t the heart to cut it. I also got me a new boob! I had a reconstruction done at Queen Victoria Hospital in East Grinstead. 8 hour op. Those surgeons are absolute geniuses. All that microsurgery. They took the fat from my tummy (a lot to choose from) and made a new boob from that. Apparently I was only the second person to be sent home without a drain. I remember the drain from the mastectomy and it was no fun dragging it around like Quasimodo. I had the op on the Tuesday and was up waiting for my lift home on the Friday morning. The care I got was second to none. Good old NHS.

Wasn’t supposed to drive for 6 weeks but I got bored, shoved a cushion down my jacket and was mobile at week three – don’t tell anyone. It was so wonderful to display a cleavage this summer and to get back to wearing normal bras. All the stuffing has been knocked out of my wardrobe.

I’ve even found time to write a book – it was written with the aim to empower women to get out there and as it says I my blog by-line to squeeze the pips out of life.

Amazon-Step-Away-from-the-Sofa

Step Away from the Sofa is published on Amazon Kindle for the princely sum of £1.99!

I had so much fun writing it, I even got carried away and gave myself a new pen name – Ellie Kennedy. The Ellie bit is inspired by my Dad who always called me Elle instead of Linda. His first name was William and we always had a giggle when the line “Fire at Will” was spoken on TV. Poor man felt so persecuted! There was always someone wanting to fire at him almost every week.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling for now. Loads more to tell – but I’ll save that for another post (very, very soon!).

Slainte xxx

ONE OF A KIND

‘One of a Kind’ is how Susan described Edie in Desperate Housewives and that is how I would like to remember my darling Lily.

This is my favourite photo of her. I nicknamed her The Joker after taking it. She was a rescue cat who had had a litter of kittens and 3 different homes before she came to live with me. At first she wasn’t really sure where she was living and was always wandering into other people’s houses but after a while she settled down and became a permanent fixture on the bed/sofa/window basket/windowsill. I made a promise to her shortly after she came to live with me that she was now in her forever home and I would keep her safe and loved to the end.

A while back she had been diagnosed with feline Dementia and was gradually losing her sense of what it meant to be a cat. She was a bit like a goldfish in a bowl, forgetting that she had eaten 10 seconds ago etc. She became very needy and also forgot what the litter tray was for and that she needed to groom herself. I did resort to bathing her but that was causing us both stress and I was scared that she would go out and forget how to get home.

The vet and I agreed that her time had come and she was given the most dignified of endings – Tanya gave her a fleece blnaket and some Dreamies. So while Lily was happily playing with them she was given an injection to make her fall asleep and then when she was asleep a final injection to send her to heaven. No shaving of paws etc just a little cat gently falling asleep in my arms.

She was 2 when I rescued her and gave me 14 years of utter joy.

This is my final entry on this blog, so thank you to all who gave me such support during trying times and to those who simply took the time to write. May you all live happily and safe.

Slainte for the last time

Linda xxxx

Summing Up 2015

I laughed and cried a lot in 2015. In January it was basically a case of “Happy New Year, you’ve got Breast Cancer.”

The things that made me laugh which I’m glad to say far outnumbered the crying bits. I will be for ever grateful to the wonderful lady who set up the FB group March Marvels. The love and support from that group of Super Hero women kept me going during my darkest hours.

The brilliant friendly group of dog walkers in my local cafe who were with me on my journey through the year, always with words of support and available dogs to pat!

Wonderful neighbours who turned up at my door with kitchen towels, bags of apples, excess fruit and veg from their gardens & allotments, just incredible.

Having various pieces of writing published including having my work read by Stephen King. What an honour!!

The ladies at the radiotherapy centre who made everything soooooo easy to get through. I have a phobia about masks over my face and the treatment involved wearing a noseclip and breathing through a tube and holding my breath for over 30 seconds five times per treatment (I had 15). I did it and as a by product I am now considering learning to snorkel!!

My cats who instinctively knew when I needed cheering up and would keep me company when I couldn’t get up from the bed or sofa.

Friends who treated me to fab days out, the odd bottle of wine, encouraged me to keep up with the writing, made me laugh till my sides couldn’t take it anymore.

Online friends who through their lovely messages of support on this blog have a special little niche in my heart.

My local crafts shop where we would have in depth discussions on the merits of Dr Who and Sherlock (of which there are several!).

A bit of a short summing up I know, but Wishing You All a Fab Chrissie and the Most Wonderful of New Years in 2016.

Slainte

Linda xxx

Why I Love Charing Cross Road

The main reason I love Charing X is because Foyles bookshop lives there.
foyles2

I could live there – free Wi-Fi, a lovely clean cafe with gorgeous eats and floor upon floor filled with books on every conceivable subject.

foyles

foyles cafe

While having a coffee there last week I decided I needed to get to the Creative Writing section. I found it literally straight across and down the stairs from where I was sitting. It made me wonder if they’ve realised that siting it there would be a good business decision as probably half the people in the cafe are drinking coffee and busily typing the ‘Next Great British Novel’.

Scanning the shelves I found this book ‘The Amazing Story Generator’.
asg
It’s a writing prompt book where all the pages are split into 3 pieces and you can mix and match them.

asg2
I hope I didn’t disturb the rather serious lady next to me with my snorting and giggling as I haphazardly created such gems as
“Suffering from incessant hallucinations, a computer hacker goes on a blind date”
or
“A thousand years from now, a night watchman joins the Mafia”
I’m currently challenging myself with this one, “With only a week to live, an old lady with twenty cats is transported to another galaxy!”

This is one reason why there will always be bookshops no matter how big Amazon gets. I think ‘flickability’ is what will ultimately save bricks and mortar shops. Even Amazon’s ‘look inside’ does not stack up against having a book in your hand and flicking through the pages. I probably wouldn’t even have seen my story generator book on amazon, but I saw it straight away on the shelf, picked it up and had 10 minutes of good concentrated flicking and of course I bought it. I had to, it appealed to my sense of humour. At the same time I bought Terry Pratchett’s last Discworld novel “The Shepherd’s Crown”. Yes, I could have bought it cheaper online, but it was there, displayed front and centre and it was the first day of publication. As readers will know I’m a huge fan of the inimitable Sir Terry and the memory of buying his last book at Foyles will stay with me forever. Similarly despite having bought hundreds of books online over the years I only have memories of one purchase. It was in the mid-90s and I was making my very first international internet purchase. I bought ‘Your Money or Your Life’ by Joe Dominguez from Barnes & Noble in New York and cheering when it all went through smoothly. Incidentally spending money online did get easier as time went on – too easy and forgettable!

But my ‘in person’ book purchases were all memorable. I vividly remember queuing for hours outside a Horsham bookshop waiting to buy Sir Terry’s ‘Thief of Time’ with him there in person to sign it. The bookshop staff kept us fed with big boxes of sweets being passed up and down the queue.
Terry pratchett

Or the time Alan Titchmarsh regaled me at a book signing with anecdotes about his mate Russell Harty. I remember chatting to the beautifully elegant Bruce Oldfield about his book on fashion. He was my favourite designer at the time and I’m sure I was almost walking out backwards and curtseying at the same time!

bruce oldfield

How can you have experiences like these without bookshops? A YouTube video of an author signing just doesn’t cut it. Getting back to Charing X there are also glorious dusty second-hand bookshops on the road and a wonderful musical instrument shop selling mainly guitars. More flickability with some strumability thrown in for good measure. Note to self, Ukulele practice is long overdue!

Slainte

Linda xxx

Oh The Joy of Hairy Legs!

I never thought in a million years that I’d get so much pleasure from dragging my razor up and down my hairy legs!

As you know from previous posts chemotherapy ate all my body hair and I mean all of it Winking smile  So, although I was pleased not to have to shave my legs during the summer (remember those 2 sunny weeks we had in July?), and to be able to expose them on the beach without fear of censure from the body police, no hair was a constant reminder of the traumatic chemo treatment.

But now as the brave little heroes are popping up on my limbs, it also means they are doing the same on my head. It looks like my hair is coming through as a dark brown with lovely white Badger stripes above my forehead. I was hoping for silver all over but I’ll settle for the Badger look as they are one of my favourite animals. Although my head hair is just a gnat’s armpit above a quarter of an inch long it’s doing wonders for my morale that very soon I’ll be able to come home one day and chuck the wig on the sofa for the very last time.

I will spare you the photos of my hairy bits but I thought you might like to see a pic of the owner of the hairiest limbs ever

 

Orangutan6_468x340

and my hero, author Terry Pratchett with the inspiration for his famous Librarian of Discworld’s Unseen University.

 

terry pratchett orangutan

I’ve managed to knit a few more tea cosies and I’ve come up with a new design based on the House of Hufflepuff at Hogwarts School of Magic. The house colours are yellow and black and the mascot is a Badger so I combined all the elements to make this!

 

Hufflepuff Badger Tea Cosy

So far two Hufflepuff cosies have gone to Australia and another one has just gone to Sweden!

 

I’m also trying to stop myself from being turned into a chemo couch potato and I’ve got my eye on one of these

pink Pashley bicycle

I have a Mountain bike already but I have this weird fear of getting my legs trapped in the frame if I fall off it. A step through bike would be perfect. I used to have one of these when I was a teenager and I loved it. It was painted blue and grey and I cycled everywhere on it. I don’t think it had any gears so I did get a bit of a workout on it. Only just over a couple of hundred cosies to knit to raise the money to buy it!!! Better get knitting then!

 

Slainte

 

Linda xxx

Free Food…..almost!

A couple of days ago I found a till generated coupon for 84p on the ground in my local Tesco car park. I picked it up and filed it away in my purse for later use.

 

Later I had an idea that I’d give myself a project to see how much food I could buy for that 84p so in theory it would be food for free. Last night I nipped out to Tesco about the time they start reducing their food and slapping yellow stickers on the perishables. I was hoping that I could get a few reduced loaves of bread as I was running low on bread for the peanut butter sandwiches I put out for the foxes every evening. I was in luck, I managed to find 8 loaves (no fishes) with the most expensive ones costing 8p. Then I joined a little group of people who were waiting for the reduced veggies to come out. I got talking to a lovely old man who was waiting around and we had a great discussion on which supermarkets had the most discounts. He had been doing this for a long time and was definitely an expert in yellow sticker hunting. We were interrupted by a man standing close to the swing doors. With a big grin on his face he announced “Game On” and sure enough a few seconds later two big bins full of fruit and veggies were wheeled out and we all went diving in. I got parsnips, cauliflower and cucumber and two big bags of fresh veggie soup mixes. The soup mix bags weren’t that popular and it made me wonder if people didn’t want to be bothered to do the necessary cooking to make the soup. I was in my element as I love making soups.

 

I left then as I’d no need to wait for the meat to come out. I wished the old man happy hunting and with a big smile on my face set off for the self service tills. A couple of mins later with everything scanned and totted up and the 84p coupon applied I reached into my purse for the money to pay the excess which came to the grand total of 10p!!!!  Yes 10p!! Was so chuffed to get all this food which will keep me and the foxes going for some time for virtually nothing. Mission accomplished!!!

 

YS shopping

tesco receipt

 

Slainte

 

 

Linda xxxxx